Grizzlies reporter drops major truth bomb on idea of Jaren Jackson Jr. playing center

Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies
Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages

Due to their bevy of injuries and mid-season roster shakeups this season, the Memphis Grizzlies opted to mix things up with their primary lineup by sliding star power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. down to the starting center position.

Despite the ball club's lackluster success rate (finished with a 27-55 record), the 24-year-old proved himself to be a serviceable option at the pivot, as his defensive chops, quickness, and notable offensive developments were often too much to handle for opposing defenders.

In turn, Jackson went on to post career highs in numerous statistical categories including points (22.5), assists (2.5), and shot attempts (17.6), and has forced fans and analysts to beg the question of whether he should be utilized as the franchise's focal point five moving forward.

Of course, while he did showcase promise in year six whilst manning the middle, it cannot be forgotten that he did so without superstar Ja Morant in tow, as the guard was held to just nine games on the year due to off-court issues and health-related ailments.

This summer, the main objective for this Grizzlies front office should be to reinforce their rotation with complimentary pieces to have running alongside the All-Star centerpiece, and, currently, their center position holds the most question marks.

While many may be entertained by the idea of Memphis running a five-out system with Jackson staying at center, during a recent episode of Locked on Grizzlies host and team beat reporter Damichael Cole shared some of his concerns regarding such a concept.

Grizzlies reporter talks downside of Jaren Jackson Jr. at center

The optics of having five guys out on the hardwood who can space out to the perimeter while on offense is something every modern-day team seems to covet and, on paper, it appears the Grizzlies could accomplish such a scheme by having Jackson stay at the pivot.

However, Cole argues that the big has been a rather up-and-down shooter throughout his professional career, which makes it hard for him to believe that keeping him at the five is the best compliment for this Grizzlies core and while running alongside Morant.

"The pick-and-pop part of his game, I've talked about it from a shooting standpoint, we can talk all day about, 'Oh, Jaren [in] the pick-and-pop, he's a stretch big' and all of that. At the end of the day, we're just keeping it real, he's still below league average in three-point shooting. Sure, any given day he can make four [or] five three-pointers and look really good from beyond the arc, but, at the end of the day... when you look at the totality of the numbers, it's below league average three-point shooting. So the pick-and-pop thing doesn't really impress me personally as much as others because in the playoffs they're going to make him pick-and-pop. Do you trust a below-league-average three-point shooter to make enough to carry you all the way to the Finals? "

Damichael Cole

For his career, the big has shot above 35 percent from beyond the arc on two occasions and boasts an overall clip of 34.5 percent. This past season, on 5.5 attempts per game, he saw a conversion rate of only 32.0 percent on his long-range shots, which was 4.6 percent worse than the league average (per Basketball Reference).

Cole would also go on to pinpoint that the best fit at center for a player like Morant may not necessarily be a high-usage big or someone who will be found posting up with "five seconds left on the shot clock."

As is proven by both the numbers (26.9 percent usage rate over last four seasons) and the sheer eye-test, Jaren Jackson is both of these things, thus insinuating that the beat reporter is hoping to see the front office pursue other options to serve as the starting five for the Grizzlies over the likes of Trip-J.